Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Giant Bamboo Explosion

One day far into the future, archeologists and botanists will pinpoint the epicenter of the giant bamboo explosion that threatened to overrun Northern California as originating from the side of my house.

At my house, we love bamboo. We have about 5 different kinds, all of which are clumping, save one. If you didn’t know there’s a difference, according to Bamboo Garden,

“Clumping bamboos can be planted without fear of them spreading beyond their assigned territory. Their rhizomes, the underground stems, are quite different than than those of our timber and other non-clumping bamboos. Instead of a horizontal spreading rhizome, they are u-shaped making new culms next to the original plant, spreading only a few inches per year, hence the name clumping bamboo.”

Then there’s the other kind. Running bamboo. The kind that’s in a permanent marathon, 365 days a year.

When we bought our ‘runner’ -- to create a privacy wall on one side of our house -- we were told that its aggressive rhizome systems must be contained within a physical barrier, such as a brick or concrete planter or a specialized plastic rhizome barrier.

We went for the specialized barrier. With our black clay soil (hard as brick when dry) this was not a trivial job but we did it. It didn’t work. Our runner did an end run on us. Now we’re making bets on how long it will be before it snakes under street and sidewalk, appearing in our neighbor’s yard across the street.

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